Thursday, April 11, 2024

Oops, I Accidentally Succeeded!

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

Have you ever started to do something that you were not very confident about, but then you ended up doing it right?  While that can happen, most of the time when we get something right and succeed it is because what we did was intentional.  If we want to do something right, we usually need to have some idea about what should be done, and a plan about how to do it.  People who are successful are not aimlessly going about their business, but they are diligently working with a purpose and doing the things that will bring them success.

When Joshua became the leader of Israel, it was a big thing.  Not only was Joshua taking over for Moses, who had successfully led the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and to the Promised Land, but now Joshua was in charge of a nation of people, with the responsibility of leading those people into the fulfillment of God's plan for them, that was a huge responsibility!  But God was not just sending Joshua out on his own, God gave Joshua a plan on how to succeed in what he needed to do.

In Joshua 1:8, God gave Joshua a plan for success: speak the Word, meditate in the Word, and do the Word.  This is the plan that worked for Joshua, and it will work for us too.  It was not a matter of Joshua trying something, hoping it would succeed, and if it worked that would be great, God told Joshua exactly what to do.  God is giving us the same plan today, so we do not have to just hope for success, and be surprised when it happens.  Our success with God can, and should be, intentional, not accidental.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Value Of Good Relationships

"And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.  And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.
Acts 9:26-28 (NKJV)

Relationships are valuable, and with the right relationships we can accomplish great things.  We all have some relationships: relationships with people we work with, relationships with people in our church, relationships with people where we live, and relationships with people in our family.  Good relationships help us grow and develop, and we can even learn things from negative relationships that we have had, although we need to cultivate the good relationships and avoid the bad ones.

Relationships are important, because they are ways for us to connect with others who we can help, and who can also help us.  Relationships are a key in our life, because relationships can benefit us in the areas of growing and developing in our personal and spiritual lives.  Relationships are important for several reasons, and we see the value of relationships in many places in the Bible.  A great example of the benefits of good relationships is seen in the life of the Apostle Paul in Acts 9.

In Acts 9, Saul, who later became known as the Apostle Paul, wanted to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him and did not trust him.  Paul was not able to make the connection himself, but then another disciple, Barnabas, helped connect Paul with the disciples.  Paul had the right intentions, but was unsuccessful in what he tried to do, until someone else helped him bridge the gap.  We need to develop the relationships we have and be open to new relationships, because sometimes a relationship will help us connect to someone, or something else, that is vital to God's plan in our life.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Success Comes From Following Directions

"For there were about five thousand men.  Then He said to His disciples, "Make them sit down in groups of fifty."
And they did so, and made them all sit down
Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.

So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.
Luke 9:14-17 (NKJV)

Not following directions is something that is fairly common with many people.  Not in the sense that someone will not listen to reason, but very often people will ignore instructions on how to build or operate something that they have purchased, because they believe they already know how to do what needs to be done.  While it is true that sometimes we can figure things out for ourselves, to be sure we successfully do what needs to be done, we should always follow directions.

In Luke 9, we read about the feeding of the 5,000, and we can see that Jesus took what was available, what the disciples had, and Jesus used that to meet the need and feed the people.  We can see that Jesus cared about helping the people, and how the need was met with everyone not only eating but being filled.  But there is something in the story that we may not recognize as one of the keys to a successful outcome; the disciples precisely followed the directions of Jesus.

When Jesus fed the 5,000, as we see in Luke 9, Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50.  But what if they thought they had a better idea and they said that groups of 25 or 30 are fine, would they have been successful?  While there is no way to know for certain, and there are times the direction God gives us may seem unimportant, we do know that to be successful we need to follow the directions that God gives us through His Word and by the Holy Spirit.  We need to listen to God and follow His directions to have success in whatever we do.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Look At This, But Not At That

"Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel.  And Samuel said to Jesse, "The Lord has not chosen these.".
And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all the young men here?"  Then he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep."  And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him.  For we will not sit down till he comes here."
1 Samuel 16:10-11 (NKJV)

Every day we are bombarded with information; some of it is information that we are looking for and some of it comes to us without our directly seeking it.  For example, we may be watching a television show, and then a commercial comes on.  We wanted to see the television show, but not necessarily what was on the commercial.  This same thing happens in social media, movies, television shows, and the news that we see.  There are things some people want us to see and hear, and other things that they do not.

God told Samuel to go to Jesse's house in Bethlehem to find the next king of Israel, but God did not tell Samuel specifically who the next king was going to be.  When Samuel arrived, he saw the oldest son Eliab and Samuel thought Eliab was the perfect choice, but Eliab was not God's choice.  What happened next is that Jesse brought out seven of his sons for Samuel to look at, but Jesse left out his youngest son, David, who was to be the next king.  Jesse wanted Samuel to look at some of his sons, but not all of them.

When Samuel arrived at Jessie's house to find the new king, Jesse only presented seven of his eight sons for Samuel to consider to be the king.  This same kind of thing still happens today; society, other people, and even the devil have things they want us to see and look at.  Just because the world or other people tell us to "look at this," and do something only based on what we have been shown, we need to listen to God to help us see what is right and to base what we do and believe on God's guidance, not just on what people have shown us.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Can You Prove That?

"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
Mark 16:15-16 (NKJV)

Often when people are trying to make a point about something, they will cite facts to try and prove to whoever they are talking to that what they are saying is true.  Many people will spend time debating about things, using different facts or personal experience in an attempt to prove their point.  Usually this is done with good intentions, where one person or group is trying to help someone understand that what has been said is true, based on the facts that were given.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He told His disciples to take the message of His triumph over sin and death to the whole world.  The Gospel, which means good news, is something that everyone should hear.  We should make a good presentation of the Gospel, and share the truth in a way that will persuade people to receive Jesus.  But once someone hears the Gospel, that person needs to take a step of faith and believe the message about Jesus, and receive Him as their personal Savior and Lord.

While Jesus said we need to preach the Gospel so that people would believe, Jesus never said that our job was to prove that the message is true.  It does not say that just because someone has seen a lot of evidence that this person would be saved; and this same principle applies to everything in the Bible.  It is one thing to hear the truth, but once we hear the truth, we must accept it, believe it, and act on it.  The key is that we believe and act on what we have heard, not just that someone has proven something to us.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Just Like He Said

"saying, "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat.  Loose it and bring it here.
And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you loosing it?' thus you shall say to him, 'Because the Lord has need of it.'"

So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.
Luke 19:30-32 (NKJV)

It is good when you know someone you can trust, and when they tell you something, you have confidence in what they said being accurate and trustworthy.  But it is unfortunate that there are some people you cannot rely on and you cannot always trust what they say.  If someone you did not trust told you something, you might be hesitant to act on what they said.  But when you really trust someone, and you know you can rely on what they say, then it is easy to do things based on what that person told you.

Luke 19 tells the story of Jesus instructing His disciples to go and get the donkey's colt that He then used to ride into Jerusalem.  What Jesus said was a bit unusual, but the disciples knew that Jesus could be trusted, so they acted on what He said, and everything worked out according to what Jesus had told them.  These verses in Luke 19 are great verses about following God and also how He will provide for us.  We can always trust God's guidance and know for certain that things will work out for us just as He said.

When we follow God's direction, it will always be just as God said it would be.  If God said we need to do something or go somewhere, we can be sure that everything is going to work out for us just the way that God said it would.  For provision in our life, for direction, for healing, and anything else that God has said in His Word, we can always be confident that it will be just as God said it would be.  Whatever God has said is true and reliable, and we can do what He says, knowing that things will always be as He said they would be.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Peace On The Path

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

Normally when you are driving from one place to another, you have an idea of where you are going.  You may have checked a map to see the route you need to take, and you might use some GPS type system to help guide you along your way.  But once you do that, there is no question of if the place you are traveling to exists and, unless something unusual is going on, you would not be concerned if you are going to make it to your destination, because once your course is set you are no longer concerned about the trip, you are just traveling to your destination.

Christians are often not sure what God's will is for their life in general, and sometimes they have specific questions about some certain direction in their life, or how to do something.  That is one part of the process of being led by the Holy Spirit and doing the will of God.  But there is another element in this that many Christians struggle with, and that is having peace on the path they are on in the will of God.  We can have confidence as we trust God to direct us, and we never have to worry that God will let us down as we follow Him. 

As Psalm 119:105 tells us, God's Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  We can always find the general will of God for our life in God's Word, and the Holy Spirit will also lead us into the will God for our life.  But once we know the direction God wants us to go, we need to stop being anxious about what to do and just do it.  When we know the will of God for our life, we can have peace knowing that God is with us and that He will help us on our way.  God wants us to have peace on our path in life and in doing His will.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

What Will Your Response Be?

"And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
In response Jesus said to it, "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again."  And His disciples heard it.
Mark 11:13-14 (NKJV)

Normally when you are in a conversation with someone, you and the other person will be talking back and forth, with one of you speaking and then the other person responding.  It would not be a conversation if only one person spoke, and it would be strange for someone to speak to another person and the second person never said anything.  Usually, when someone talks to you, you then give a response.  In fact, if you did not respond to something that was said, then it could be implied that you agree with what was said.

Many Christians know the story of Jesus and the fig tree and how Jesus came to the fig tree but did not find any figs.  The fig tree had leaves, which would normally indicate that there were also figs on the tree, but there were no figs.  As it says in Mark 11:14, Jesus responded to the fig tree and He said something.  The word used here for respond is translated as answer in other translations of the Bible, and this word can mean to answer a question or to speak after something else is said.

In Mark 11, Jesus came to the fig tree that had leaves but no figs.  You could say it this way, the tree spoke by having leaves but no figs, and Jesus responded by cursing the tree.  In our everyday life, things are speaking to us.  Our body can speak to us, our finances can speak to us, other people, and different situations can speak to us.  The question is, how are we going to respond?  The way we respond, what we say, is very important.  No matter what situation we face, we need to respond in faith with God's Word, and not with our feelings, opinions, or other ideas.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

A Bible Usage Report?

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)

Every week, my phone and my tablet produce a usage report telling me what apps I used the most in the past week.  From this usage report, I can see where I have been spending time while I was using my phone and my tablet.  Most of the time, I am not surprised with the app usage, because I know what I had been doing for the past week with my phone and tablet.  But sometimes I am a bit surprised that I have used an app as much as I did, and sometimes the usage report shows me that I used an app less than I thought I had.

When Joshua became the leader of Israel, God told Joshua how to be successful.  God told Joshua to keep the Law in his mouth and meditate in it day and night.  In terms of New Testament believers, we would say that it is necessary to meditate on and speak God's Word, think about it, and make it a part of our life, every day.  But, while this is God's plan for success in everything He directs us to do, the real question is if we are actually doing this, day and night, or if it is just an occasional thing?

Just like God told Joshua, God's Word needs to be a part of our life, every day, and every night, all of the time.  For some Christians, God's Word is a part of their life on Sunday, or in an emergency.  The quantity of time we spend with God's Word is not the point, but we all need to have a regular time in God's Word, every day, and make it a vital part of our life.  If we had some kind of a Bible usage report that we saw every week, would we be pleasantly surprised at how much time we devoted to God's Word, or shocked at how little it is a part of our life?

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Praying For Our Leaders

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)

One thing I have noticed is that it is very easy to get people to do what they are already interested in doing.  While that is a fairly obvious statement, there is a deeper issue that it highlights: people will do what they really want to do, even if it is not the best thing to do.  It is easy for people to be interested in doing things they like, and dislike what they are not in favor of.  Again, this is quite obvious.  But the real issue is that we need to be willing to do what is right and good, whether we like it or not and whether we are interested in it or not.

The Apostle Paul wrote many things by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help believers live the life that God has called us to live.  While there are many things that are very simple and easy for believers to focus on doing, there are some things that Christians do not get too excited about; one of these things is praying for our leaders.  In 1 Timothy 2, Paul said that we need to pray for our leaders so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.  If we are not praying for our leaders, then we have a problem.

If we pray for our leaders, as Paul talked about in 1 Timothy 2, then we are following scriptural guidelines.  Paul did not say to only pray for our leaders if we like them and agree with them, or complain about our leaders if they do not do what we want; Paul said that praying for our leaders was what we need to do.  One thing we can pray about for our leaders is for them to make good decisions that promote righteousness and the preaching of the Gospel.  We all need to pray for our natural and spiritual leaders, it is the guidance we receive from God's Word, and it is the right thing to do.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Knowing The Details

"But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra - what persecutions I endured.  And out of them all the Lord delivered me
2 Timothy 3:10-11 (NKJV)

When we learn about something, a place, an event, or even a person, there can be a lot of details to learn about it.  We might know that Berlin is a city in Germany, but there are a lot more things than that to learn about Berlin.  We might know about a man landing on the moon, but do we know when it happened or who was involved?  We might know about a person, a personal friend or a public figure, but how much do we really know about them?  If we really want to have a good understanding of something, we need to know all the details.

The majority of Christians know who the Apostle Paul is.  They might know he was formerly a Pharisee who converted to Christianity and that Paul started churches and wrote many letters.  But there are many more things we can learn about the Apostle Paul than just those few facts.  There were several people who traveled with Paul and spent time with him, including Timothy, Titus, and Luke.  How well did these people know Paul?  We can see that Paul lived a life that allowed others to get to know him and how he lived.

In 2 Timothy 3:10-11, Paul said Timothy had carefully followed Paul's doctrine, manner of life, purpose. faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, and afflictions.  These were not things that Timothy had only heard about; Timothy knew all the details himself.  Paul was not living a secluded life where no one really knew him or what he was doing.  Paul worked alongside other people and gave them a living example of a godly life and how to serve God.  We too need to give a detailed living example of a godly life that others can learn from.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Who Do You To Listen To

"And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.  And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things?  And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!"
Is this not the Son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon?  And are not His sisters here with us?"  So they were offended at Him.
Mark 6:2-3 (NKJV)

Sometimes when we accomplish something, or if we do something that people did not expect us to be able to do, people might be impressed by what we did, but it can also be that people will criticize us.  If this happens, then we have a choice, will we listen to those people who praise or criticize us, or will we continue to do what we are doing?  If we are doing what is right, then we should not allow the praise or criticism from anyone to stop us from doing what we need to do.

Although Jesus is the Son of God, and He did the will of God, not everyone was happy with Jesus and pleased with what He did.  In Mark 6, when people heard Jesus teach in the synagogue, they wondered how He could teach the way He did, and people were offended by Jesus and His teaching.  People talked about the natural background of Jesus in a way that seemed to say, "We know His family, we know Him, who does He think He is?", but this did not matter to Jesus, He just kept doing the will of God.

Jesus knew Who He was, He knew the will of God for His life, so Jesus did not allow the criticism, or the praise of people to change what He was doing.  Jesus never changed His teaching to please His critics; Jesus taught the truth from Scripture, even when people did not like it.  We need to be the same way, and know who we are in Christ, what God has called us to do, and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Then we need to keep doing what God has said, no matter what others say about it; we need to know Who we should listen to.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

All Things, Or Just A Few Things?

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Normally, when people set goals, they will do everything they can to achieve that goal.  It is not hard to get someone to do something that they are highly motivated to do, no matter how difficult that thing might be.  But, if you ask someone to do something that they are not interested in, or something they do not enjoy, then that is a different story, even if you offer to assist them in doing what needs to be done.  It is possible for that person to do the thing; they are just not willing to do it.

There are many Christians who like Philippians 4:13 where it talks about how we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, but I sometimes wonder if people really believe that, because it sometimes depends on the circumstance and situation in what they are doing.  Christians will talk about doing all things through Christ when it is something they are already interested in doing.  But does Philippians 4:13 only apply to God helping us do the things we already want to do?

It is not hard to talk about doing all things through Christ when we are talking about the goals and dreams we have.  But what about getting involved in something in our local church that, while we are able to do it, we do not really want to do; is that something that we then cannot do through Christ?  Do we allow our personality and our likes and dislikes to be our boundaries, or through Christ can we overcome those things to do whatever we need to do for God?  We can do all things through Christ, even if it is not our favorite thing, as long as it is part of God's plan for our life.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

You Control It Yourself

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Sometimes while I am out walking or running, I see people who are walking their dog.  But then, something happens where the dog gets upset or a little excited and gets out of control.  What is amusing to me is that the people with the dog act surprised that their dog is acting like a dog!  They sometimes look around as if they do not know what to do, or that maybe someone else needs to do something, but the person with the dog just needs to take care of their own dog; I often think to myself, it is your dog, you need to control it yourself.

We are a three part being: spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  When we are born again, we become a new creation in Christ, spiritually.  But even though we are a new creation in Christ, we still have the same body and soul as we did before salvation, and we need to do something with our body and our soul.  In Romans 12:1-2, the Bible says that we need to present our body as a living sacrifice and renew our mind, which is a part of the soul.  The emphasis here is that we do something with our body and our soul.

It is up to us individually as believers to control our own body and renew our own mind.  While other people may help us with this, no one can do it for us.  Some people seem to think that if they get enough people praying for them, or if they get into a special meeting, or if someone lays hands on them, everything will be fine.  But the Bible clearly tells us that we have to control ourselves.  Through learning what the Bible says, and by acting on it with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can control our bodies and renew our minds.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Say No To The Yes Man

"The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise.
He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.
Proverbs 15:31-32 (NKJV)

The term, "Yes man", refers to someone who always seems to agree with whatever another person is saying.  Sometimes in a business, a boss or leader will only want to have people around them who agree with and support whatever they say, they want a yes man.  But no good boss or leader just wants people who agree with everything they say, without any opportunity for input from any other point of view.  No one knows everything, and having other people who can bring wise and constructive input to us is always helpful.

No one does everything right, and wise people look for ways to improve what they are doing.  Someone who does not look for ways to improve and develop themselves is foolish.  What hurts people is not that they make a mistake, but what hurts people is their refusal to listen to input from others.  By paying attention to wisdom from others, each and every one of us can do what we do better.  This is why we need other spiritually mature believers around us to help us and give us wisdom in what we are doing.

A good question for all of us is, "who can correct us", who do we allow to speak into our life?  If we only listen to those who agree with everything we say, no matter what we say, does that mean that everything we say is right, or is it that we only allow the "yes men" to be our associates?  If we are unwilling to listen to wise input from others, we are in danger of having serious problems.  We do not want to be the kind of people who think we know everything and will not listen to others; we need to be wise and receive instruction from others.